Green Gram Beans with Coconut

(Cheru Parippu)

Legumes, known collectively as dhal, are—along with rice—the staff of life in south India, providing protein in a vegetarian diet. This recipe uses mung dhal, which has a distinctively sweet, earthy flavor and, when hulled and split, a golden color. See In the Kerala Kitchen for information on Indian ingredients.

Green Gram Beans with Coconut
Legumes, known collectively as dhal, are—along with rice—the staff of life in south India, providing protein in a vegetarian diet.
Yield: serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hulled, split mung dhal (green gram beans)
  • 34 cup finely grated fresh coconut or finely shredded dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 fresh hot green chile (serrano or thai), stemmed and split lengthwise
  • 12 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 14 tsp. turmeric
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 12 tsp. brown mustard seeds
  • 1 whole dried hot red chile

Instructions

  1. Put mung dhal in a large skillet, and toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it turns golden and gives off a toasted aroma, 5–10 minutes. Transfer dhal to a strainer, and wash under cold running water to rinse off any excess dirt or dust, about 1 minute.
  2. Put toasted dhal and 2 1⁄2 cups water in a medium saucepan, then bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until soft and most of the dhal has broken down to a thick, lumpy consistency, 25–35 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, grind coconut, green chiles, cumin seeds, turmeric, 6 of the curry leaves, and just enough water (about 1⁄3 cup) in the jar of an electric blender to make a moist, thick paste. Add coconut mixture and salt to cooked dhal in pan, and mix well, adding a few tbsp. of water if needed, until mixture has the texture of thick split-pea soup. Increase heat to medium, and cook until just heated through, about 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
  4. Melt coconut oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add mustard seeds, and cook until they begin to pop; then carefully add red chile and remaining 6 curry leaves (the leaves will produce an explosive spatter when they hit the hot oil). After curry leaves sputter for a few seconds, add mixture to dhal, and mix well. Add salt to taste.